Time’s running out to apply for our Safety Innovation Awards!

Attention Ohio employers! The application deadline for the 2018 Safety Innovation Awards is just around the corner. To spotlight innovative Ohio employers and their ingenuity, we’re once again seeking entries for our Safety Innovation Award Program.

This annual program awards cash prizes from $1,000 to $6,000 to employers that develop innovative solutions to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses to their employees.

Public and private employers may apply online on our website by Sept. 30.

Finalists will attend Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19) in Columbus on March 6-8, 2019, to present their innovations to a judges’ panel and the public.

OSC19 attendees will determine the recipient of The People’s Choice award. We will present the awards during a ceremony at Safety Congress. Learn more about last year’s winners in the video below.

In addition to cash prizes, finalists and their innovations are:

  • Spotlighted in the Safety Congress event guide seen by thousands of attendees.
  • Featured in an area entirely dedicated to them in the Expo Marketplace at OSC19.
  • Honored in a ceremony at Safety Congress.

We can’t wait to see the ingenious and creative innovation you’ve developed to keep your workers safer and healthier on the job. Apply today!

If you have any questions about the program, email bwcsafetyinnovations@bwc.state.oh.us or call us at 1-800-644-6292.

Disasters happen. Are you ready?

By Jodi Lombardo, BWC Employee Safety & Health Administration Manager

Disasters happen. Prepare now. Learn how.

Those three sentences form the theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sponsors National Preparedness Month each September. Its goal is to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools and communities.

This month is a great time to learn how to use a fire extinguisher (every home should have one!) and how to keep safe in severe weather.

And it’s always a great time to take a course in lifesaving CPR/AED or trauma first aid. We at BWC offer this training to our own employees.

With the right planning and skills, you’re one of the people your co-workers and loved ones will turn to when disaster strikes. You’ll be instrumental in saving lives in an emergency before first responders can arrive.

This year’s weekly themes are below. Please take some time to review the information contained in each link.

Visit ready.gov or more information on National Preparedness Month.

Sharing strategies to battle the opioid epidemic

By Brian Wilson, DC, BWC Medical Projects Director

How do we make headway in combating the opioid epidemic? The fact is there are many answers to that question. We’ve learned here in Ohio that tackling this issue must be a collaborative effort, and we can all learn from each other.

I know from my work with the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) that my counterparts in other states feel the same.

The IAIABC is an international association of workers’ comp agencies and industry stakeholders. BWC regularly engages IAIABC and its members, leaders at similar agencies across the country, to discuss policy and regulatory issues that affect the workers’ comp industry. One of those leading issues is the opioid epidemic.

I have the honor of working closely with IAIABC and its executive director, Jennifer Wolf-Horejsh, as a member of its Medical Issues Committee. The committee gathers information on how local and state agencies are managing important issues like the use of formularies, drug educational materials and prescription drug monitoring programs.

In June 2018, Ms. Wolf-Horejsh and I had the privilege of speaking at Ohio’s 2018 Opiate Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Here, we gave a glimpse into preliminary findings of the report to-date and compared Ohio to other states for those who attended.

Most recently, I sat on the Opioid Task Force, a multi-state collaborative effort that recently released the Opioid Policy Inventory a compilation of survey data from 33 states and their responses to the opioid epidemic. The report is a summary of major strategies, including which states are using them, along with links to national resources.

Understanding the incredible reach of this issue, and that everyone with a stake in this crisis can learn from each other, the report provides not just a workers’ compensation perspective, but a collective look at what a variety of local and state agencies are doing. Our goal is to create a dynamic and collaborative conversation starter piece for policy-makers across the country.

This report is important because it allows states to review strategies that are working elsewhere and they may be able to replicate. It could also stimulate fresh ideas. Thanks to all the outstanding committee members whom I served alongside during the development of this document.

I hope you’ll take the time to review the report* and use it as a reference, especially if you’re involved in efforts to ease the impact of this epidemic in your community.

*This is a living report and it will be updated as states report new strategies to the IAIABC.


Restaurant safety: It’s not just about food safety

By Ben Hissam, BWC Industrial Safety Consultant

Having worked in restaurants as a chef or chef manager for more than 10 years, I have seen first-hand the hazards of the industry.

I remember the long hours, usually working six nights a week. It is a demanding job that you have to really love, getting satisfaction from making people happy through your work.

When I came to BWC, I decided to help develop the restaurant safety class because of my industry experience. My days in the kitchen gave me insights into restaurant operations in the front and back of the house.

I remember starting in the restaurant industry, when everything was made from scratch. This often included hand cutting vegetables and salads, meats, potatoes and more. Prep work was, and still is, a large part of the job. Ergonomic-related injuries – including repetitive hand motions, prolonged standing, lifting produce cases, etc. – are some of the most common injuries in the business.

Other common hazards include cuts, burns, and slips, trips and falls. Unlike the imminent danger hazards in construction and manufacturing, hazards in restaurants tend toward first-aid types of injuries. Rarer are reportable injuries such as amputations or fatalities from entanglement in a large industrial mixer or buffalo chopper, which are more likely in food processing than in a restaurant.

The restaurant industry is partially exempt from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping requirements. People attending the restaurant safety courses I teach say they are often more concerned with health department inspections.

Restaurant staff usually attend food safety classes, like servsafe, that focus on the safety of food prep and storage, areas the health department regulates. However, it’s also important they not overlook the standards that OSHA regulates in the restaurant industry, including:

  • Hazard communication – exposure to corrosive sanitation and cleaning chemicals.
  • Walking working surfaces – slippery or cluttered floors.
  • Machine guarding – powered equipment, slicers, mixers, etc.
  • Lock out – cord and plug control single point lock out.
  • Personal protective equipment – slip-resistant shoes, cut-resistant gloves, thermal protection etc.
  • Emergency action plans – one-way exit discharge blocked by trash staging in back of house.
  • Electrical – ground-fault circuit interrupter protection where conductive services are located.

Other hazards restaurants should address include awkward lifting and bending, and workplace violence, such as robbery or fights among employees.

We offer classroom and online courses to help restaurants address hazards and develop comprehensive safety plans to protect their workers. You can learn more or register online. I hope to see you in class!

AASCIF 2018: Connecting with industry peers and experts

By Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

Each year BWC staff participates in the Annual Conference of the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds (AASCIF).

This year, SFM Mutual Insurance Company hosted the conference in Minneapolis. SFM was a generous host providing educational sessions, informative panels and networking opportunities to the attendees.

BWC staff are involved in AASCIF in many ways. This year four BWC employees were members of AASCIF’s committees tasked with planning session topics and finding speakers.

Michael Rienerth, Ergonomics Technical Advisor, chaired the Safety and Health Committee. Bill Teets, Communications Director was on the Communications Committee. Barb Ingram, Chief Finance Officer was on the Finance and Investment Committee and I was on the Underwriting and Policyholder Services Committee.

Several BWC staff also traveled to the conference to attend sessions on a variety of topics from managing concussion claims to an overview of nationwide workers’ compensation legislation.

Shadya Yazback, BWC Chief of Enterprise Services, said that one session she really enjoyed was Telehealth – A Case Study. In this presentation, Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI), the North Dakota State Fund discussed how they are piloting telemedicine options for a small group of employers. Some areas in North Dakota are very remote, so the pilot utilized technology to engage injured workers’ through telephone calls with triage nurses and follow-up video calls with physicians. The presentation included a live demonstration of a patient exam using the video technology (see photo below).

Shadya commented that she thought the presentation was useful in demonstrating how technological advances have the potential to improve access and quality of care to our injured workers.

I also participated in a panel titled Successfully Recruiting and Retaining the Workers’ Comp NextGen. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Wolf, Executive Director of the International Association of Industrial Accident Board and Commissions (IAIABC). The interactive discussion highlighted the value of hiring and retaining millennial talent and offered ideas such as fellowship programs and career progression paths as ways to get more young people into the industry.

In addition to the educational programming, AASCIF holds an annual Communication Awards competition. I am happy to report that BWC won four awards this year. The awards are:

  • Excellence in Writing: First Place for Saving Lives, Building a Pharmacy Program piece in IAIABC’s Perspectives Magazine
  • Radio/TV Advertising: Second Place for our Guardian Angel 30 second spot
  • Open Category: Second Place for the 2018 Ohio Safety Congress and Expo
  • Print Marketing: Third Place for BWC’s Opioid Infographic.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the conference was when our Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison announced that AASCIF 2019 will be coming to Cleveland, Ohio.

The team at BWC is already hard at work gearing up to host the conference. Cleveland is a beautiful and vibrant city so save the date for July 21 – 24 and plan on joining in 2019.

Back-to-school safety tips for drivers as distracted pedestrian numbers rise

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

It’s back-to-school time and that means you’ll probably find yourself driving through busy school zones a lot more often. It’s important to keep in mind the dangers these congested areas pose for both pedestrians and drivers and to prepare accordingly.

There were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 2017, marking the second year in a row at numbers not seen in 25 years, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report. One trend that may attribute to the rise is the growing use of smartphones, and distracted driving, walking or cycling as a result.

When you’re behind the wheel and in a school zone, or in an area with children walking and biking to school, follow these five simple tips to keep yourself and those around you safe.

  • Be extra watchful at intersections. Not paying attention to traffic signals, such as flashing school zone or crossing signals, is a major area of concern when it comes to pedestrian safety and distractions.
  • Always come to a full stop at stop signs and crosswalk warning signs and be sure to look both ways before pulling through. Remember, pedestrians have the right away, so beware of individuals crossing at the last second.
  • Be ready for jaywalkers. People don’t always use crosswalks and you need to be ready to react if someone steps off the sidewalk, especially if they are distracted.
  • If you see a bicyclist with headphones, exercise caution. They may not be able to properly hear what’s going on around them, including oncoming traffic.
  • While driving, don’t engage in distractions yourself. Put your phone away, refrain from playing with the radio and avoid doing anything that takes your attention off the road. In order to drive defensively, you must remain alert at all times.

For more driving-related safety tips from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, as well as advice on preventing slips, trips, falls and overexertion this fall, visit BeSafeOhio.com.

Our “safety things we did this summer” report

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Kids will soon be going back to school and writing essays about the things they did this summer. It’s a fun way for them to recap some of the highlights of those long summer days before jumping into the grind of the new school year. We thought we’d do the same in this post!

We’ll start with the past few weeks and our time at the Ohio State Fair. For the second year in a row, we had a booth in the Bricker Marketplace to highlight safety at work and at home. We got the message out about our Be Safe Ohio campaign to thousands of fairgoers in the booth and with our sponsorship of the iconic Sky Glider. We even handed out bottles of water and Beat the Heat cards to attendees as they were leaving the fair on one of the days.

Fairgoers of all ages were excited to stop by our booth to try their hand at Safety Plinko. Children were especially eager to play for safety prizes, including fans, earplugs and the always popular colorful safety glasses. In less than two weeks, our representatives handed out hundreds of informational pamphlets and thousands of safety giveaways to everyone from preschoolers to grandparents.

Once again, the state fair was a great opportunity for us to reach the public and educate Ohioans on ways to protect themselves on and off the clock.

Safety Day at the Zoo
Earlier this summer, we participated in Safety Day at the Zoo at the Cleveland Metro Parks Zoo. The event – organized by the Greater Cleveland Safety Council – gave us the chance to get our message of safety and wellness out to zoo visitors. It was a picture-perfect day and we got to interact with hundreds of parents and children, giving them tips on staying safe and healthy.

Trench Safety Stand-Down
In late June, we hosted or participated in several trenching safety training events in conjunction with the National Utility Contractors Association’s 2018 Trench Safety Stand-Down. This included training events in Erie County, Toledo, Cincinnati and Summit County.

The Summit County event provided classroom training followed up with a review of the information covered in the class while conducting digging of a trench and installing a trench box.

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls
We kicked off the summer with training opportunities during the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in May. Our fall prevention training included events at:

  • Our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health in Pickerington.
  • At Boak & Sons in the Youngstown area.
  • Our Garfield Heights Customer Service Office.

Events like these are critical for stemming the tide of falls in the workplace. Nearly 30 percent of all claims filed with BWC are from fall injuries, and falls in Ohio result in an average of 14 fatalities a year.

Thanks to everyone who attended our trainings or who stopped by to see us at various stops this summer. We got a lot out of these interactions and we hope you did too!